Gladstone fishing industry is ruined, local fishers say

Dredging in the Gladstone Harbour.
Dredging in the Gladstone Harbour. Brenda Strong

AN offer to pay compensation to commercial fishers impacted by a dredging program in Gladstone harbour has attracted 24 applications.

Applications for compensation closed on Friday.

Gladstone Ports Corporation opened the program in March to offer compensation for commercial fishers who had lost access to fishing grounds because of the port expansion.

Queensland Seafood Industry Association chairman Dr Michael Gardner said the process had been difficult.

"QSIA and indeed the fishermen who we were representing didn't agree with the impact (zones)," he said.

"The area that GPC has allocated is much smaller than the ones that we felt should have been recognised," he said.

A GPC spokesman said the compensation was fair.

"GPC has worked in consultation with the Queensland Government, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the local commercial fishing industry," he said.

GPC could not provide information on total amounts of compensation or how much has been allocated.

Compensation will not be offered to seafood processors as it is not one of the EIS conditions.

Trevor Falzon will not give up on getting compensation for local commercial fishermen.
Trevor Falzon will not give up on getting compensation for local commercial fishermen. Christopher Chan

Fisherman says industry is ruined

THE Gladstone Harbour and fishing is a subject of anger for local fishermen.

Many still believe the Gladstone Ports Corporation's dredging operations are to blame for the fish health issues they say have ruined the local industry.

"I haven't fished now (in the harbour) for the last 18 months," local fisherman Trevor Falzon said.

A State Government report earlier this year found no link to the water quality, fish and human health, but independent research by the Gladstone Fish Research Fund challenged these findings.

Mr Falzon described any compensation from the GPC as a redundancy payout, and a bad one at that.

"At the end of the day, it's peanuts for what they're offering us," he said. "They have steamrolled us into nothing."

GPC recently started the application process to provide compensation for closed fishing zones.

This process is not related to the fish health debate.

Those who had commercial fishing income in the 2009/10 financial year at GPC's four designated catch sites could apply for compensation.

"Just four little squares in a picture that covers the whole entire harbour.

"The whole harbour should be where everybody is compensated. There is so much vessel traffic," Mr Falzon said.

The contentious debate of what is to blame for the fish health will continue.

"We will be taking the ports corp to court again," Mr Falzon said.

Topics:  commercial fishing, fish health, gladstone harbour, gladstone ports corporation



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